Elaine Bagshaw says she and her campaign team now hear daily from disappointed Labour voters who feel betrayed over Brexit.
“We hear it over and over again,” the Liberal Democrat candidate for Poplar & Limehouse says. “On the doorstop, while getting a lift with boxes of campaign leaflets, on social media--a lot of times voters have approached us first, saying how disappointed they are in the incumbent Labour MP for voting with the Tories for Hard Brexit, against the wishes of over two thirds of his constituents.”
Tower Hamlets Lib Dems, which includes both the Poplar & Limehouse and the Bethnal Green & Bow constituencies, recently surpassed the mark of 700 local members: its highest count ever and a threefold increase since last year’s EU referendum. They also raised more than £5,000 in the week of the snap election call. Bagshaw says she has heard from both regular Labour and Tory voters, who are either committed to voting Lib Dem or thinking seriously about it.
“It’s not a big surprise to me that we are seeing this kind of backlash--not just because ours is such an emphatic Remain constituency, but because it may be Hard Brexit for the rest of the country, but for one of Britain’s poorest boroughs--it’s better described as Very Hard Brexit.”
The party’s national Brexit spokesman Nick Clegg pointed this week to independent research showing that a Hard Brexit would lead to £59-billion a year less for public services while also raising annual living costs by an average of £500 per family.
“We really cannot afford that in Poplar & Limehouse, and we didn’t vote for it either,” says Bagshaw. “Lib Dems are committed to staying in the Single Market so we can invest in protecting and improving our public services.”
“Some might suggest that this election shouldn’t be about Brexit, but about public services. I, like the vast majority of voters in Tower Hamlets, am in a situation I didn’t choose. But when Hard Brexit threatens our public services to such a degree, it makes no sense for candidates in this election to simply pretend it’s not an issue.”
The Liberal Democrats have become the first major party to commit to ending the "national scandal" of rough sleeping across Britain, including in Tower Hamlets.
Last autumn’s figures from DCLG show there were 964 people sleeping rough in the capital in 2016, up from 940 the previous year. In Tower Hamlets, there were officially 12 people sleeping rough, while 125 households were evaluated as being homeless and in priority need. 2,012 households were in temporary accommodation.
Meanwhile, Local Authority Housing Statistics show that 258 homes in the possession of Tower Hamlets council are vacant, despite the housing crisis.
The Liberal Democrats have set out a series of measures to end rough sleeping, including introducing a Housing First provider in each local authority that would put long-term homeless people straight into independent homes, rather than emergency shelters.
The news comes as a coalition of homelessness charities, including Centrepoint, Crisis, Homeless Link, Shelter and St Mungo’s, have called on political parties to commit to end rough sleeping in Britain.
Elaine Bagshaw, the Liberal Democrat Candidate for Poplar and Limehouse said:
“Under this government, homelessness has soared and young people have been stripped of housing benefit, threatening to make matters even worse. It is a national scandal that so many people are sleeping on the streets in 21st century Britain.
“By increasing support for homelessness prevention and properly funding emergency accommodation, we can end rough sleeping in Tower Hamlets and across the country.
"It is a disgrace that despite the housing crisis, so many council homes owned by the Labour council are lying empty.
“We will ensure our local authority has at least one provider of Housing First services, to allow long-term homeless people to live independently in their own homes.
“The evidence suggests that supporting people and giving them long-term, stable places to stay is far more successful in tackling homelessness than constantly moving them to different temporary accommodation.
“This election is a chance to change Britain’s future and stand up for a country that is open, tolerant and united."
Liberal Democrat Leader, Tim Farron, has criticised Labour, claiming their record and reputation amongst ethnic minority communities is in tatters.
With Labour’s vote share among ethnic minorities collapsing and the Conservatives lurching to the right, the Liberal Democrats have a huge opportunity to win swathes of ethnic minority voters. Support for the Liberal Democrats saw a significant boost in 2003 when they were the only party to campaign against the invasion of Iraq, backed at the time by the Labour government, including the current, local Labour MP.
Speaking during an event at Westminster Synagogue, Tim Farron said:
"Labour have been taking Britain’s ethnic minority communities for granted for far too long.
“Even before Brexit, it was an open secret that Labour weren’t engaging with certain communities, because they felt ethnic minorities would vote for them regardless. Even their own MP Chuka Umunna has admitted that.
“But now that Labour have waved the white flag on Brexit and given Theresa May a blank cheque to choose the hardest and most divisive form of Brexit – I want to openly say to Labour voters – join us.”
On the Conservatives, Tim said:
“UKIP might as well take the rest of the election off, because the Tories are fighting their campaign for them.
“We have a Conservative MP who admits to negotiating with UKIP and praises their proposed ban on burkas. Progressive Conservatives need to ask themselves if there is any difference between the Conservative Party and the vile prejudice of UKIP.
“The only opposition to these three Brexit-style parties is the Liberal Democrats. There is a clear choice at this election to keep Britain open, tolerant and united – and that is to vote Liberal Democrat.”
Elaine Bagshaw, Parliamentary Candidate for Poplar & Limehouse said:
“I know from talking to our Bengali, Somali and other ethnic minority communities in Tower Hamlets that they are tired of being taken for granted by Labour. They have lent them their support before, because they thought Labour would deliver for them, and instead they’ve been let down.
“If elected, I will keep working to engage with the local concerns of all residents in Poplar & Limehouse, ensure that Britain steps up on international issues, such as the refugee crisis and foster an open, tolerant and united community in Tower Hamlets.”
Liberal Democrat Prospective Parliamentary Candidate Elaine Bagshaw has marked Europe Day today by calling on voters in Tower Hamlets to support the Lib Dems in standing up to Theresa May's plans for a hard, destructive Brexit.
Elaine Bagshaw said:
"On Europe Day it is important to remember that the EU was created to end centuries of war in Europe and bring prosperity to all European countries.
"It is clear that Theresa May is willing to scrap a free trade deal with the rest of Europe in order to pander to UKIP and the far-right of her own party.
"Nobody knows what Brexit will look like. The choices Theresa May will make will affect Tower Hamlets and our country for decades – that’s your job, your weekly shop, your environment, your safety, where you can travel to and where you can live.
"If you want a strong opposition in Tower Hamlets, fighting for an open, tolerant and united Britain, this is your chance. Only a vote for the Liberal Democrats can change Britain’s future."
Responding to comments made by Jeremy Corbyn that Brexit had been "settled", leader of the Liberal Democrats, Tim Farron said:
"Corbyn made his party vote in Parliament with the Conservatives on Brexit, and now he is joining Theresa May in denying the British people a final say on the Brexit deal.
"Be in no doubt, if you are worried about Theresa May’s plans for a hard, destructive Brexit, and if you do not want to see our country ripped from the Single Market with the futures of millions of EU citizens put at risk, the Lib Dems are the only party which is fighting for you."
16,320 pensioners living in Tower Hamlets will receive at least an extra £772 per year under Liberal Democrat manifesto plans to protect the 'triple lock' for state pensions.
Thanks to the triple lock guarantee, secured by the Liberal Democrats when they were in government, the basic state pension has risen in each year by whichever is the higher of earnings, prices or a rate of 2.5%. However, the Conservatives have refused to guarantee whether the triple lock will continue, raising fears it could be scrapped.
The Liberal Democrats have committed today to keeping the triple lock, meaning the state pension would be worth at least £137.15 a week by 2021, up from £122.30 in 2017, or an extra £772 a year.
This would be paid for in part by restricting perks such as the winter fuel allowance so they are no longer paid to the wealthiest pensioners.
Liberal Democrat spokesperson for Poplar & Limehouse, Elaine Bagshaw said:
"Protecting the triple lock will mean an extra £772 a year by 2021 for the 16,320 people receiving the state pension in Tower Hamlets.
"The Liberal Democrats are making a clear commitment to older people in Tower Hamlets, unlike the Conservatives who have repeatedly refused to give this guarantee.
"The triple lock has succeeded in lifting thousands of pensioners out of poverty, but many are still struggling to get by.
"An important test of a civilised society is the way in which it cares for the elderly. This commitment will ensure older people are able to meet their basic needs and that their living standards will be protected, especially with prices set to rise in the coming years."
The Liberal Democrats have announced they would plug funding gaps for the NHS and social care by putting a penny on income tax, in their first major manifesto commitment of the election campaign.
The tax would raise an additional £31.3 million for Tower Hamlets, with £20 million for the NHS and £11.3 million for social care each year.
This is the party’s flagship spending commitment and its first major policy announcement for the election. The Liberal Democrats manifesto will also set out a ‘five-point recovery plan’ for NHS and social care services in their manifesto.
At least 70% of Brits would happily pay an extra 1p in every pound if that money was guaranteed to go to the NHS, an ITV poll found last October (link).
Liberal Democrat spokesperson for Poplar & Limehouse, Elaine Bagshaw said:
"Right now in Tower Hamlets we are seeing patients lying on trolleys in hospital corridors, urgent operations being cancelled and the elderly being denied the care they need.
"The Liberal Democrats are prepared to be honest with people and say that to secure the future of the NHS we will all need to chip in a little more.
"A penny in the pound would allow us to invest in improving local NHS services and ensuring the elderly receive the care they deserve.
"This Conservative government has left our health and care services chronically underfunded - and while the crisis gets worse they just don't seem to care.
"We cannot continue asking the system to deliver more and more, without giving it the resources to do so."
Liberal Democrat Health Spokesperson and former health minister Norman Lamb said:
“The NHS was once the envy of the world and this pledge is the first step in restoring it to where it should be.
“A penny in the pound to save the NHS is money well spent in our view.
“But simply providing more money on its own is not enough and that’s why this is just the first step in our plan to protect health and care services in the long-term."